Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats

212          MY    COUNTRY   AND   MY    PEOPLE

collecting 36,275 volumes which were preserved originally in
seven sets in the well-known Ssitffu Cttuanshu. But he also
succeeded in ordering the complete or partial destruction of
about 2,000 books, involving about a score of cases of dismissal
from office, imprisonment, flogging or death of the authors,
sometimes including the destruction of their ancestral temples
and the selling of their family as slaves—all this because of the
misuse of a word. The figures of both the Yunglo Tatien and the
Sstitfu CKuanshu represented a selection of works worthy of
preservation according to the orthodox standards. There was
a slightly higher number of works which received honourable
mention, with a brief description in the catalogue, but these
were not collected in the Sstik'u CKuanshu for perpetuation.
These, of course, did not include the truly creative works like All
Men Are Brothers or the Red Chamber Dream, although they
included a tremendous amount of pichi, or "notebooks," on
odds and ends, from historical researches to notes on tea-leaves
and famous springs and sketches of foxes, water spirits and
chaste widows, which were the delight of the Chinese scholars.

What, then, did these books talk about? A review of the
orthodox classification system of Chinese libraries, handed
down from the Ssuk'u CKiianshu> would be of interest. Chinese
books are classified into the four big divisions: (a) Classics,
(b) History, (c) Philosophy, and (d) Collected Works or
Literature. The Classics Division includes the classics and
classic philology, which waste the greater part of Chinese
scholars' time. The History Divison includes dynastic his-
tories, special histories, biography, miscellaneous records,
geography (including travel sketches and local history of
districts or famous mountains), civil service system, laws and
statutes, bibliography, and historical criticism. The Philosophy
Division originally borrowed its name from the schools of
philosophy of the Chou Dynasty, but was made to include all
the special arts and sciences of China (as in the "Faculty of
Philosophy" of a Western university), including military science,
agriculture, medicine, astronomy, astrology, necromancy,
fortune-telling, boxing^ calligraphy, painting, music, house
decoration, cuisine, botany, biology, Confucianism, Buddhism,
Taoism, reference works, and a host of the above-mentioned